You may by now realise that I enjoy my food rather a lot and of course I love my birds, so to be taken to a cafe for breakfast surrounded by birds was a great addition to last weekend!
At first I was just struck by the lovely location, nestled in the beginnings of the Llanberis pass, and then the building itself was enough to please me. It is a multi-use building with the cafe taking advantage of views of the garden through almost entirely glass walls. I chose my breakfast and then I started seeing things…Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Chaffinch all feeding right in front of my face…who was watching who feed I wonder?! The glass barrier afforded views I’m not accustomed to and was an excellent way to appreciate the size differences of these realitively common birds.
My friend went up to order and as I glanced over towards him, treecreepers! Two, over the otherside of the cafe. I (actually) skipped across the cafe exclaiming “Treecreepers! Look! Look!”. The rest of the clientelle politley smiled as I interupted their serenity.
I was so overawed by this dining-birding experience that I actually returned a few days later with my visiting friend, Sam. This time the weather was less in our favour and the little guys weren’t showing. Still it is a lovely spot for breakfast. Then, a Sparrowhawk flew in and perched on a branch metres from our window. Prooving that no matter the weather this is a top place! If you like to try it for yourself it’s called the Caban and can be found in Brynrefail off the the A4244.
Tuesday was spent with Ken and Sam. We had a walk around Pentraeth Forest before moving on to Red Wharf Bay. As we pulled into Red Wharf Bay I decided it was most definitely time for lunch. I think Ken often despairs of me and my need to eat so frequently – he is built for birding, other functions are secondary. Ken scanned the estaury with his scope, whilst from inside the car – literally biting into my cracker with cheese, I shouted “Bird of Prey Ken!” tee hee, small victories 🙂 Ken identified it as a Merlin. I could see it chasing after some small bird but had to settle for watching ‘cracker-in-hand ‘ as lunch had buried my binoculars somewhere.
We saw a flock of Common Snipe take to the air and as we walked along the coast path towards Llandonna and several Jack Snipe popped out of the saltmarshes to say hello.
This Saturday morning I joined the North Wales Wildlife Trust for a guided walk around the Alaw Estuary near Valley, lead by Ian Wright and my very own Ken Croft. What a fabulous morming we had awoken to?! The previous evening had been wet and windy, the sea battering against the cliffs at South Stack. I left my house before Ken arrived to pick me up and was stunned at the millpond-esque sea around me. What a transformation!?
Down at the Alaw a sizeable group had gathered and we spent a couple of hours enjoying the weather, the company and the plentiful birds. There was a whole range of birders there, from novice to expert and it was nice to be able to share the sights with them all. We had a list of some 39 bird species in and around the estuary before the rest of the group headed on to Penrhos Coastal Park.
Saturday night was a starry, starry night down at Treborth Botanical Gardens. Nigel Brown, along with ‘Friends of Treborth Gardens’, presented a star-gazing evening. It was well worth the £3 entry fee. My knowledge of the night sky is limited to say the least and armed with a torch, Nigel led us on a guided tour of the constellations. It was incredible! The moon alone was worth looking at in more detail, through binoculars the craters and seas were well defined. I have now learnt various constellations and notable features of the sky tha I hope will be able to find on my own. It is definitely something I will do again. I will take advantage of the skies up at South Stack on a clear night and see how I fare. A big thank you to the astronomical society who came along and let us look through their mammoth scopes – through these I saw an up-close shot of the moon and even the striations on Jupiter!!
Can’t sign off without mentioning the naturebites birdrace which is fast approaching! I am starting to gather teams, but it’s not too late to enter…just email me before you head out with your team members, which county you are choosing and which day you are going out. I am excited to say that so far we have participants in the West Midlands, East Yorkshire, Benbecula, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Gwynedd and Anglesey – why not represent your county?! It really is all about having fun so if you have a day where you can spare six hours then give it a bash 😉 See my previous post for the brief rules and you’ll be on your way…
I really look forward to hearing from more of you who want to join in,
Had a fabulous Friday night at the North Wales Wildlife Trust’s annual Lacey lecture. This time it was over to Wrexham to hear Mike Dilger give a talk on the “Trails and Tribulations of being a Wildlife Presenter”. You may have seen Mike presenting wildlife pieces on The One Show where his cheery, enthusiastic demeanor has inspired many an armchair naturalist. It was very pleasing to see that Mike is just as bubbly and on form in the flesh too (and I am reliably informed by a mutual friend that he hasn’t changed a bit since his days living in Menai Bridge). Mike shared with us many stories, right from his first bird-watching experiences as a youngster to jumping off a ten metre diving board, emulating the awe inspiring dive of the Gannet, for the tv cameras. It was really lovely to know that lots of the people I have met in my time here have also been instrumental in Mike’s development. My birding buddy Ken was one of those who got name-checked 🙂
Saturday took me to Moelfre and as I wound my way around the village I came across a hedgehog! I hadn’t seen a Hedgehog in ages! I escorted this little, and surprisingly fast, fella across the road into the safety of a garden. Now I just keep thinking the fallen Autumn leaves are more of these spikey friends.
Sunday night I arrived back in Derbyshire to visit some of my family and on Monday went for a walk with my sister, boyfriend and my baby nephew strapped onto the front of me. In a forest on the fringes of Matlock I spotted a small bird creeping up and flitting between the trees, sure enough it was a treecreeper! Admittedly, it’s quite hard to focus when you have an 11-month-old little man bobbing around in front of you. Wouldn’t change that for the world though!
Monday night involved a trip to Buxton and an evening with the wildlife royalty that is Chris Packham. Chris was mainly showing us through his stunning photographic collection which you can view at chrispackhamphotos.com. His pictures were truly astonishing and it was funny to hear Chris tearing them apart with his own criticism – the moment he referred to a Cheetah as “that idiot in the background” for ruining the composition of one of his animal portraits had me in stitches.
Most importantly, for me, Chris also voiced his opinions about Tiger conservation and it’s wider implications for conservation issues on the whole. Without criticising any one party Chris extolled the virtues of a more cohesive conservation program with more powerful effects. I look forward to hearing if Chris has any proposals on how we go about this…
On Tuesday, during a muddy bike ride back from Buxton to Bakewell I was lucky enough to see what Packham referred to as a ‘birders bird’, the Hawfinch. Brilliant. It’s rich brown colouring, white wingbars and chunky features were unmistakable as it dashed across the track in front of me.
Conversely, on my travels home I have stopped to have a walk around a woodland at Manly Knoll in Cheshire and seen virtually nothing! That’s birding for you!
Back in Wales soon,
Kathy x x x